Nominations are now open for the Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards 2016, which will recognise youth workers who utilise sport and arts programmes to engage and empower young people across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards celebrate the positive impact of youth workers on young people’s lives, their communities and their societies. Youth workers can be found in a broad range of civil society and voluntary organisations as well as government ministries and youth departments.
Past awardees have worked with at-risk youth, in grassroots organisations, civil society organisations, in schools and youth clubs and also in senior levels of government.
The awards scheme was launched in 2013 as part of Commonwealth Youth Work Week, an annual initiative by the Commonwealth Secretariat that highlights the contribution and achievements of youth work, youth workers, and youth organisations throughout the 53 Commonwealth member countries.
The theme for Commonwealth Youth Work Week 2016 is ‘Empowering young people through sport and arts’, acknowledging the intentional use by youth workers of sport, and creative and innovative techniques, to deliver effective youth empowerment programmes. As young people participate in these programmes, they build personal, social and intellectual capacities that enhance their contribution in the home, school, community, country and the wider world.
Katherine Ellis, Director of Youth at the Commonwealth Secretariat, stated, “Sport and arts play a critical role in engaging young people, developing leadership, and enhancing participation in the community. They inspire young people, including many who struggle with mainstream education and programmes, and instil the belief that it is possible to achieve and succeed in different ways. Innovative approaches provide spaces for young leaders to emerge, and for young people to test their own capacity to transform the world around them. It is critical that the youth workers who deliver this vital work achieve greater recognition for their role, and receive resources and training to maximise their already considerable impact on societies.”
The nominations period will close on 31 August 2016, after which finalists will be shortlisted from each Commonwealth region - Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Europe, and the Pacific – with Youth Worker of the Year named for each region.
As part of an awards ceremony in London on 10 November 2016, the overall Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year, drawn from the regional winners, will be named. The 2015 Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year was Victor Ochen of Uganda, founder of the African Youth Initiative Network and a former Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.